Ground rent and service charges
What does my service charge pay for?
The breakdown of your service charge outlines the cost of the services you receive, usually for the maintenance of the communal areas on your estate or blocks of flats. Not everyone will pay a service charge as not everyone receives these services.
Your service charge may pay for items such as:
- Grass cutting and gardening
- Cleaning of communal areas
- Gas, electricity and water use in communal areas
- Window cleaning
- Servicing and maintenance of communal television aerials
- Laundry facilities
- The service and maintenance of CCTV equipment
- Parking controls
- Testing, servicing and inspection of fire safety equipment.
Who decides how much my service charge is?
The way in which your service charge is set is dependent on your lease.
We calculate your service charge by looking at how much services have cost the previous year and estimating the costs over the coming year. For example, if water for the communal area cost £100 the previous year and we are advised of a 5% increase this year, we would charge £105 for this year.
Variable service charge
Having a variable service charge means that if we estimate your service charge incorrectly we will correct this in the following year’s service charge. For example, if we estimated it would cost £220 to cut the grassed area at your scheme and it only cost us £200, the £20 overcharged would be credited to your service charge account.
The same would apply where we have undercharged for a service in any particular year.
We will write to you in September if you have a variable service charge to advise you of the actual costs of services you have received.
How can I pay my service charge?
- If you pay by Direct Debit your amount will be changed from April 2018 to reflect the new amount. However, if you are on a payment plan or receiving Housing Benefit Shortfall then you should contact us on 0300 500 6262 to have your Direct Debit amended.
- By rent payment card - you can call the automated telephone line on 0844 557 8321. Calls cost 7p per minute.
Service Charge FAQs
What does ‘Staff Costs’ cover?
This is to cover the cost of your Caretaker or Scheme Manager.
What does the charge ‘Tree Works’ cover?
This covers all communal tree pruning and felling.
What does the charge ‘Refuse Disposal’ cover?
This charge covers the cost of removing any fly tipped items or one off cleaning. The council are not responsible for clearing any items fly tipped in areas where the land has been adopted by us.
This charge does not cover the cleaning of wheelie bins.
What is the charge ‘Repairs’?
We calculate this cost for your block and then apportion it between all the properties in your block. This charge is for repair works carried out to your block and not to your individual property.
What does the charge ‘Sundries’ cover?
These are incidental costs for things such as rock salt which may have been purchased for use on your estate. Accounts will be amended accordingly on your next service charge statement if it is not used, but only if you pay a variable service charge (tenancy agreement signed).
What is a Sinking/Reserve Fund?
This is an amount paid regularly by the leaseholder to pay for any works which may need to take place in the future.
If I move, is the Sinking/Reserve Fund refunded?
No, these funds will remain in the fund for the benefit of the scheme.
What does ‘Personal Charge’ mean?
This is a charge for a service which relates directly to you as an individual resident i.e. water charges. This is not a communal charge.
Why are there two ‘Administration Fees’?
One is 7% and is added to charges from Management Agents. These are marked ‘Management Charge Fee’on the statement.
The other is 15%.
What does the charge ‘Administration Fee’ cover?
This is charged to all rental customers at the standard 15% rate. The fee covers the administration costs of the services we provide.
Why is my charge different from my neighbour in the next block?
This is quite common. An example would be where the electric bill for one block differs to another. If your service charges are ‘variable’ then each block will pay for exactly what they have consumed.
What happens if I have overpaid?
If you have overpaid, the difference will be credited to your service charge account and then either:
- Left on your service charge account
- Used towards clearing, in part or full, a service charge arrear on your account
- Used towards clearing, in part or full, an outstanding service charge
- On request we can arrange a refund as long as points 2 and 3 do not apply.
What happens if I have underpaid?
If you have underpaid, the difference will be charged to your service charge account and you will be required to pay the shortfall. Please contact your Income Services Officer to discuss how this can be paid.
What if I have difficulty paying my service charge?
You must contact us immediately on 0300 500 6262 and we will be able to advise and assist you.